After NK Dinamo Zagreb got the ball rolling with a 4-1 victory at FK Ekranas last night, another 26 teams will be in UEFA Champions League action tonight with a place in the third qualifying round up for grabs.
Former winners FK Crvena Zvezda and FC Steaua Bucuresti are among those involved in 13 second qualifying round ties. Serbia's finest Crvena Zvezda, European champions in 1991, will enter the competition in front of a full house at Cork City FC after all 5,000 tickets sold out in six hours. The Irish club's chairman Brian Lennox said: "We're looking forward to a full house and another memorable night at Turner's Cross." Steaua, the Romanian club who famously defeated FC Barcelona in the 1986 showpiece and last season reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, face NK Gorica in Slovenia.
Anticipation is also high in Moldova and Latvia as FC Sheriff and FHK Liepajas Metalurgs prepare to respectively tackle FC Spartak Moskva and FC Dynamo Kyiv. The Faroes have a representative in the second qualifying round for the first time following B36 Tórshavn's defeat of Birkirkara FC, and the islanders now travel to Istanbul to face Fenerbahçe SK.
Last season's runners-up in the Czech Republic, FC Mladá Boleslav will make their European debut against Norway's Vålerenga IF, while Heart of Midlothian FC are returning to the top level of club football for the first time since 1960/61 against NK Široki Brijeg. Even though all these ties, and Dinamo Zagreb's return against Ekranas, conclude a week today, all 28 teams will be in the hat on Friday for the draw for the third qualifying round.
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